Neato's smart robot vacuums seem so brainy it's often scary, but the company's latest flagship just might take the cake. At IFA 2017 in Berlin, Neato revealed the $799 (£799 or about AU$1,011) Botvac D7 Connected. Billed as the most sophisticated vacuum cleaner Neato has ever envisioned, it also has the biggest sticker price Neato has asked potential owners to pay.
For that massive pile of cash, the Botvac D7 won't serve double duty as a remote home sentry the way the Miele Scout RX2 and Bosch Roxxter are planned to. Those rival products will sport digital cameras for that purpose and stream live video while you're away.
Instead the Botvac D7 is meant as an evolutionary improvement over Neato's already advanced top-tier robot vacuum, the $700 Botvac Connected, which already leaps into action when you speak to the Amazon Alexa and Google voice assistants. Likewise you can instruct the Botvac Connected to clean or stop cleaning by typing cues into Neato's Facebook Messenger chatbot.
What is new in the Neato Botvac D7 Connected are improved mapping functions. Specifically you'll have the ability to cordon off sections of your home you'd like the Botvac D7 to always avoid. For instance if there's a particularly troublesome corner where the robot tends to get confused and stuck, mark it off as off limits. Neato calls these zones "No-Go" lines. They're virtual versions of the magnetic strip barriers the company sells separately (though models have a few in the box).
Only the D7 will support "No-Go", at least at first. But if you already own one of Neato's Botvac Connected line, take heart. The company plans to push all the other smart abilities down to every one of its connected robots. IFTTT compatibility will join the Botvac collection of automated skills too, something home automation geeks have yearned for.
Neato expects the Botvac D7 Connected to hit stores in the US and Europe by Q3 of 2017. And the enhanced mobile app, which enables the improved suite of smart features, will arrive at the same time. Of course, whether the Botvac D7 is worth its high mark-up ultimately depends on how well it tidies floors in the real world.